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Law offers two paths to U.S. Supreme Court


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- George W. Bush accused the Florida Supreme Court Tuesday of overreaching its authority by allowing the hand recounting of votes in three counties to continue. He said Wednesday he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris must accept amended vote totals until Sunday at 5 p.m. -- if her office is open on Sunday -- or else Monday at 9 a.m.

There are two ways in which Bush can seek intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court. He must claim a violation of the U.S. Constitution or appeal through the federal system.

Key court filings in the election cases before the Florida Supreme Court from the court's Website
(These require Adobe® Acrobat® Reader™)

Florida Supreme Court ruling (FindLaw) (requires Adobe® Acrobat® Reader™)
Petition from Palm Beach County - November 14
Initial brief of Attorney General Robert A. Butterworth - November 18
Brief of Al Gore and Florida Democratic Party - November 18
Answer of George W. Bush - November 19
All election litigation filings before the Florida Supreme Court
Florida Supreme Court hearing on election ballot recount

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Federal courts are historically reluctant to interfere in the state process of running elections.

The U.S. Supreme Court's Rule 10 says that the high court will consider an appeal when "a state court of last resort has decided an important question of federal law that has not been, but should be, settled by this court."

The critical aspect in obtaining review by the U.S. Supreme Court is to identify a federal question. That is why the Bush campaign has focussed its argument on the notion that hand counting the ballots in several Florida counties violates the "equal protection" provision of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. Bush argues selective hand counting means all votes are not treated equally.

George W. Bush has already unsuccessfully asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta for an injunction to stop the hand recounts in Florida. However, the court did not act on the merits of the argument, so Bush could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to enjoin all recounts or he could file for a hearing with the U.S. Supreme Court "before judgement" is made in the 11th Circuit.

An appeal for an injunction would be filed with Justice Anthony Kennedy who has oversight for the 11th Circuit. Kennedy would probably canvass the full court before granting or denying an injunction.

An appeal for review would go to the full court and require four justices to concur with granting a hearing.

Deadlines and 'will of the voters' debated in Florida Supreme Court
November 20, 2000
Bush, Harris urge end to Florida recount; Gore seeks uniform standard
November 19, 2000
Gore asks Florida high court to set standards for recount
November 19, 2000
Presidential vote recounts yield few changes so far, officials say
November 19, 2000
Democrats protest exclusion of ballots in Palm Beach County
November 19, 2000
Lieberman says Dems not trying to block absentee ballots
November 19, 2000
Congress studying electoral college scenarios
November 19, 2000
Bush camp blasts 'flawed' count
November 18, 2000
Candidates' lawyers head for court showdown in Florida
November 18, 2000
Manual recounts continue as court refuses Republican request for a halt
November 18, 2000

Florida State Courts
Florida Southern District Court
Electoral College
Volusia County government
Palm Beach County government

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